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Bluebeam Tip: Email Templates January 2, 2015

Posted by carolhagen in Bluebeam Revu, Construction Industry - Software, email.
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For those of you still not using a Construction project management solution or Bluebeam Studio and the notifications feature, you are likely sending many emails for RFIs, Submittals, etc. to the architect, general contractor, specialty trade or engineer. Bluebeam has PDF document templates for RFIs as a PDF document and as fillable form. If you correspond frequently with the same few people on a project, why not make email templates to expedite the process?

Bluebeam email template prefills Email templates can be prefilled with To, CC, BCC, Subject, and Message so you can create a template for a specific Architect when sending an RFI, like this that reduces keystrokes for your project manager:

To create an email template in Bluebeam, click File
and hover over the down arrow next to Email, then select Manage E-mail Templates Bluebeam RFI email template between You and the Architect
If you have a large project with over 100 RFIs expected, you may want to put the Project Name in the Subject line and save the template as RFI to specific Architect for Project XYZ. Obviously you can do the same thing for submittals and to other recipients you frequently email.
Choice of email templates appear in the Bluebeam dropdown listWhat you end up with is a dropdown to select from like this (right). Email templates are especially handy for project managers assigned to one project for an extended timeframe.

Note that the dropdown list appears in alphabetical order. Be careful to create a good naming convention either by type of correspondence (RFI, Submittal, etc), by project name, or by recipient for consistency and ease of use.

Question for my readers:
What Document templates have you created beyond the Fax, Field Report, Invoice, Memorandum, Punch, RFI and submittal choices delivered with Bluebeam Revu? Please share your list of templates and forms in the comments.

New to this blog? Please either follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn or subscribe in a reader to learn new tips every week.

Next week I’ll cover notifications inside Bluebeam Studio.

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Bluebeam Tutorial: How to convert Outlook emails to PDF December 17, 2014

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Bluebeam Revu, email.
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Whether you have a discovery issue or you just want to archive all your email for one construction project, Bluebeam Revu’s Outlook Plug-In has you covered.  At the end of the year it’s always good practice to clear out your email by archiving.  The problem with Outlook is that the archive option keeps it stored inside Outlook…not an easy place to find documents or review them. This is why the Revu Plug-In is so great.  You can convert a single email, multiple emails or an entire folder of email (in bulk) and if you want, have all the documents password protected or stamped “as Archived on date” if you wish. And best of all, any attachments are automatically hyperlinked to the converted PDF document.  This video gives a good overview of the Bluebeam Outlook Plug-In:

If you don’t see the Bluebeam options on your Outlook ribbon and right click doesn’t have the convert to PDF option either, you may not have the Outlook Plug-in installed. Either contact your company administrator, or if you only have a single license, run Bluebeam Administrator.  The dialogue box brings up what plugins you have  Make sure they are checked, then click apply. Bluebeam Standard includes Office and Outlook.  Bluebeam CAD and Extreme add AutoCAD, Navisworks, Revit and SketchUpPro  to the mix.

How to install the Bluebeam Outlook PlugIn

I often share emails by converting them to PDF with password protection turned on, to limit printing and editing capabilities at the recipient’s end.  You can access the security from the Bluebeam “change settings” option in the Outlook Ribbon

How to change security permissions in Bluebeam converted email

Change settings in the Outlook plugin controls what prompts you see before converting to PDF and the page settings.  It also controls where the file or folder is saved to, the password security permissions and if designated, the stamp that is applied to the PDF.

Is your new year’s resolution to clean up your Outlook inbox or to remove old email?  Let Bluebeam help you delete with confidence!

If your firm (or a friend) needs to add Bluebeam licences, please Email Me Your Contact Info before Dec 31, 2014 and you’ll automatically get the Revu 2015 release for free!  Note this program is only available thru authorized Bluebeam resellers and is not available from Bluebeam direct.

 

 

 

 

E-Discovery in Construction Litigation January 8, 2014

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, email, records retention.
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Construction E-Discovery Tips

As a panelist for the Arizona Bar Association luncheon yesterday along with Kathy Kozen, Esq, Director of Discovery Services for D4 E-Discovery and Russell Yurk, Esq, Jennings Haug and Cunningham, a crowd of 80+ lawyers filled the room at the Phoenix Country Club. They asked me to give them an overview of what Enterprise Content Management (ECM) was and what technology construction firms were using to manage their documents. There were cases sited involving email, metadata, and search terms that they asked us to comment on as well.

Here are a few highlights of what I shared that could prove helpful to contractors (and lawyers) to improve their construction document management and avoid unnecessary e-discovery litigation expenses in their future.

In an e-discovery process many documents are extracted for review and the delivered results are something like an ECM system – searchable, sortable, accessible and deliverable.

If you have an ECM system in place prior to litigation you’ll save money in the gathering phase and can produce native documents and metadata if necessary.

Document Management in accounting and project management systems is often a paperclip function and not all are alike. Some merely point to a file address and the link can be lost if the document is moved on a hard drive or archived.

Email is a terrible way to document a construction project and can be costly to recreate the timelines when older email is involved.

Avoiding the use of email, leading firms are collaborating on documents (marking up, editing and producing auditable records) in project management, cloud based systems and PDF editing solutions then importing the documentation into their ECM systems as part of the workflow. Email in these firms may only be a notification system to alert subcontractors and other project stakeholders of request for input or approval on RFIs, submittals, change orders,etc within the Project management or ECM system.

Photo management is exploding and innovative firms are capturing photos throughout the project from mobilization thru the punch process. On large complex projects like hospitals, many are outsourcing the capture of in progress jobsite photo collection at set milestones.

I sited an ENR article from February of 2012 that stated some firms were writing into their contracts that email would not be used for e-discovery on the project – This received many chuckles from the audience, however, as the trend toward less email use continues, there won’t be much value in email – just a bunch of expense. Some judges will uphold this argument as well if both parties had agreed before the project began.

Having a documented records retention and destruction policy can help avert opposing council’s request for you to pull email from backup tapes. Backups are for catastrophic loss (fire, flood, computer hard drive failue, etc). By having an email records retention policy that is followed (you destroy the emails in a timely fashion per the policy) may save you tens of thousands of dollars in e-discovery costs.

Printing out emails and storing them in a physical job folder while deleting the original email (and it’s metadata) could be a records retention policy breach and null your protection. Smart lawyers will ask you to produce the email with metadata since a printed out email could be produced on a typewriter.

ECM can include Word, Excel, Powerpoint, recorded VOIP messages, audio, photos, video, web content, scanned documents, e-forms, Text messages, email and the attachments in any format including .PDF, .DWG, .DWF, .IFC, etc.

It will be difficult to convert Building Information Modeling (BIM) to .TIF as it is a visual 3D rendering. BIM files are exceedingly large. Laser scanning is also becoming commonplace along with augmented reality which will also be “discoverable” in complex cases.

Much of the e-discovery expense is in exporting documents and converting them to a standard readable and searchable formats like .PDF or .TIF.

Bates numbering can be done with .PDF – Bluebeam Revu offers this feature and also has document conversion capabilities for many standard formats.

There will continue to be an explosion of data volume with smartphones, tablets and mobile device use in construction, therefore e-discovery data collection may also grow exponentially.

Without a plan to eliminate silos and share documents across platforms (Sharepoint servers, ECM systems, accounting, project management, mobile devices and other collaborative systems) a construction company increases its exposure as they collect and retain more data.

If you are looking for ECM solutions to make your plan room and/or your entire company electronic, mobile, collaborative, accessible, and auditable, we consult and market ECM and electronic document management systems to the construction industry. Just Email Me what you’re looking to solve and let’s get you started.

Construction Email: Friend or Foe? March 15, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, email, records retention.
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Inc Construction, email is primary communications methodConstruction companies communicate primarily through email, even when using a project management software solution. Often it is reminders and clarifications to help document the project. Progressive construction operations and accounting departments leverage email in their systems to increase collaboration, nurture relationships, improve productivity, reduce paper volumes, spread news and update the project team. Often email holds over 70% of all the intellectual property in a contracting business when you include all the attachments. So what are you doing to protect this valuable data?

Construction Email attachments contain intellectual propertyWith email storage growing 37% year over year, limiting your employee’s mailbox size may improve your email server performance but you are simultaneously losing valuable documentation. Construction operations managers often create policies to drag n drop emails into a document management system. Some project management systems log the email on the project as they are sent. The problem with these approaches it that it requires a human to stop and take time to drag the email or always log into a project management system. With the smartphone prevalent throughout the construction mobile workforce is this a reasonable expectation of your project managers and field teams? Add texting, instant messages and social media to the mix and it seems that more often than not, there are exceptions that may sidestep your project system’s design. Even marketing and business development communications may be locked in a silo that knowledge in operations could benefit from. Then there’s the dreaded discovery when a project has turned sour. Accessing what’s been said in email can be a godsend or at least identify your exposure to risk.

Construction professionals are not only mobile but often project team members are recruited from firm to firm and their knowledge goes with them. When an e-discovery issue arises and a key employee no longer works at your firm, if you haven’t retained the emails you may not have any idea what’s been said. Worse yet is the opposing council may have an email sent from your firm, that you are unaware of. Being in the dark by forcing email deletion may have just worked against you. What’s worse is that email discovery costs are rising

How can a construction firm capture everything? Email archiving or integration to an Enterprise Content Management System(ECM).

Not every email archiving system can capture everything but some are worthy of discussion as they incorporate new features as technology advances. For instance, Arcmail Defender which can instantly archive your chats and attachments. It has also addressed communications shared in SalesForce Chatter, an enterprise social network mentioned by a few contractors who have deployed the Salesforce CRM system. Armail has been working with construction companies since 2006 as they offer a case study of Pinkard Construction online [PDF].

By having a email archiving system in place you can search across the enterprise for all incoming and outgoing communications, project related or otherwise. If you’ve ever searched in Outlook through 6 months of saved emails, you may be waiting awhile for results. Searching from an email archiving system offers additional search functions and shortens the time to locate critical communications. If you can increas productivity and reduce risk it’s a win-win. Once overheard in a construction management meeting, “The firm with the most documentation wins” is a mantra that is only true if you can also find what you’re looking for. As a reseller of ArcMail I’d like to invite you to an on-demand email archiving demonstration. Simply Click here to watch a 30 minute overview or Email Me to ask questions and schedule a one-on-one demonstration.

If you found this post interesting you may also like these:

Construction Communications and the Email Tidal Wave

Email Records Retention Can Be Tricky

Construction Communications and the Email Tidal Wave October 13, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, email, records retention.
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Wave inundating you and your email inboxEmail can be a contractor’s best friend or worst enemy. Construction personnel communicate frequently to achieve good project outcomes and this usually involves email and with more mobile devices, text messages. Most project managers I speak to are inundated with large volumes of email that take hours to process daily. Many have taken the time to create rules and put emails in various folders to help them sort through their inbox. They also have to keep their inbox clean with mailbox size limits set on the Exchange server. Surely there are better ways to handle project emails, instant messages, Exchange Server communications and improve your ability to find an email, when you need it later because an issue arises.

In a recent study by IBM Research entitled “Am I wasting my time organizing email? A study of email refinding” apparently putting email in folders is a waste of time! After reviewing this research, an anonymous reader writes
“There are two types of office workers in the world — those who file their emails in folders, and those who use search. Well, it looks like the searchers are smarter. A 354-user study by IBM research found that users who just searched their inbox found emails slightly faster than users who had filed them by folder. Add the time spent filing and the searchers easily come out on top. Apparently the filers are using their inbox as a to-do list rather than wanting to categorize information to find it more easily.”
While many firms have implemented project management software there are still times when replies come thru regular email in Outlook and you have to log the email into the system (more work UGH). Younger more mobile owners often want to communicate through text or instant messages and find email too slow and “old school” making a construction firm’s technology appear outdated. The fear is that communicating in instant messages or other modes will make you more exposed to risk. We all know the person with the most documentation typically wins an argument. That’s why we are papering projects to death. The correspondence can also spawn multiple copies across your computer network including your Exchange server and Sharepoint. So how can we access emails we need faster and have the confidence that we haven’t missed any communications? Perhaps your email server needs a break. Let’s look a few possible solutions.

Monitored Email Folders
Having all email correspondence directed to an email address can make sorting project related and can be integrated into your content management system. This can give your entire firm access, with proper authority, to construction project correspondence by job. Each email recipient forwards documents to the appropriate job folder. Construction Imaging (CI) has developed a solution that goes one step further, called email manager. You tag it with a job number and document type. Then it automatically indexes it into the archive. Retrievable in seconds! The CI solution only requires having the AX back end – a standard foundation to their content management solutions. You can learn more about email manager and their other solutions at www.construction-imaging.com

Email Archiving
Email searching is much faster with Email Archiving systems and is the preferred method to address e-discovery issues. For firms with an Exchange Server, there are many choices. Not as many for those with Lotus Notes or Domino, but still choices. It gets trickier when you also need further integration to popular products like Instant Messaging like MSN, Yahoo and AOL Messenger that can really make this challenging. email archiving appliances from ArcMail There are also other 3rd party products that involve other departments, CRM systems including Salesforce with their social media communications center called Chatter that can make this mind boggling. There is an answer to all this – ArcMail Defender (disclosure: yes, I am an ArcMail reseller). Construction firms are attracted to this solution because it is quick an easy appliance to implement, you can be up and running in well under an hour. We’re conducting on-line webinars on email archiving with ArcMail. To Register and make email work for you, click here to request your ArcMail demo request date/time. We’ll get back to you promptly.

While you await our reply, please read a construction firm’s success story with Arcmail

Does your construction firm use Exchange server, Lotus Notes or Domino and have you implemented instant messaging? Have you considered email archiving in your contracting firm? Leave us a comment and share what you’re doing to make email work for you.

How to Export your LinkedIn Contacts September 13, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email, linkedin.
6 comments

How to Export Your LinkedIn Connections
Exporting your LinkedIn Contacts is just a good business practice. After returning from the 2010 National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Convention it became apparent that every professional needs a few tips on LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn accounts can be suspended and even the best systems can fail at anytime, it’s smart to have a backup plan in place and export your contacts from LinkedIn occasionally. So how do you extract all your contacts from LinkedIn?
Be logged into your account and then either navigate to your contacts (found under the Network tab) then select Settings by clicking on the gear on the right. There you can select the Export Connections option as seen above:

or you can go directly to http://www.linkedin.com/addressBookExport where you’ll see this screen: How to export LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn gives you options to export to Outlook, Yahoo Mail, MAC or a vCard format and also provides directions of how to import too. I realize that you probably don’t have your entire Outlook Address Book as contacts in LinkedIn but I hope every contact is in your Customer Relationship Management System. Many products are integrating LinkedIn into their email systems and there are plug-ins for outlook like Xobni and LinkedIn for Outlook, a social networking connector that your firm may want to consider. It helps improve your relationships by having the ability to access status updates and activity efficiently in whatever application you are working in.

The more connections you have the more valued investment you have in LinkedIn. I’d like to hear from you. How many of my readers have ever exported their contacts? More importantly how many will?

How to Make a Personalized Newspaper with Google Reader and iGoogle April 16, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email.
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How to Make a Personalized Newspaper is really a big time saver and Google Reader with iGoogle made my information aggregating simple. Gathering news on your favorite topics can be a chore … visit your favorite websites and read through all the email subscriptions in your inbox. While my tech friends already use Google Reader or other RSS readers, I found that the rest of the world is still in the dark on how to make this automatic. Let’s first discuss what RSS is.

RSS is a term the news media has leveraged meaning Real Simple Syndication. To the layman it’s a way to subscribe to news, blog posts, etc. RSS eliminates the need for you to visit each blog or multiple websites to read updates and new articles. Adding iGoogle to the mix organizes all your “subscriptions” into a newspaper format filled with headlines, divided into sections and customized to your liking. So instead of receiving 100’s of emails a week, you visit iGoogle, choose what section of your newpaper you want to scan thru — glance at the headlines and read only those that peak your interest. Reducing email volume, alleviating distractions and enabling you to get caught up on topics quickly has proven to be a huge time saver. No more clogged email inbox for me! What’s really great is all this is easy to do and free to use.

How to Make a Personalized Newspaper
Let’s look at how my iGoogle “newspaper” is layed out:

My Personalized iGoogle Home Page

So how do you put this together?
Start with signing up for a Google gmail account. It will ask you for your login, password, etc. You do not have to make Google your defaul homepage or enable web history. It will ask you to try out Buzz…skip this for now as that will be covered in another blog post.

Then setup your iGoogle page
It will be configured for you but not personalized and may look something like this:

Sample Auto Configuration of an iGoogle Page

Now you get to customize it with gadgets. You can change the theme at the top if you’d like.
Start by arranging or removing the items it brought in automatically. Each of these items, like the clock is called a gadget. If you click in the top right section of the gadget on the down arrow you’ll get a dropdown box like this:

Gadget options

If you don’t want a gadget, just delete it. You can also move them around by clicking on the crosshairs and dragging it to where you want it.

Google also has many gadgets you may want to add. Click on Add Stuff in the lower right hand corner of the theme picture (top of the page) and you will be taken to another page. Some of my favorites gadgets are: Google Calendar, Google Translate, LinkedIn Search, and TwitterGadget. If you are a news junkie, grab CNN or FoxNews, or perhaps Engadget (IT guys like this). Don’t lose focus and just grab a few for now. Remember we are creating a customized newspaper of all things you like to read about. Once your finished grabbing gadgets, click “back to iGoogle page” (at the top).

Now lets create our newspaper sections.
Next to Home on the right hand side is a down arrow. This is where you can create new tabs. Here are mine:

Once you create tabs you can also drag gadgets from your homepage to another tab.

Now lets add our content – add a blog feed. Let’s go find some blogs that discuss topics that interest you. I don’t care if it’s photography, social media, construction or job hunting. There are hundreds of blogs to choose from. Use one of these tools to find your hobbies, interests and all things educational that you like to read about:
http://blogsearch.google.com/
http://technorati.com/
http://www.icerocket.com/
http://www.blogsearch.com/

Once you find a blog you like, find the RSS button to subscribe to the blog. It may just have an orange logo or also say subscribe like this:

When you click the RSS logo it will take you to a screen like this: or it may have more choices like this:

If you select subscribe with Google it will take you to this page:

If you are still logged into google and on your iGoogle page, when you select “Add to Google Homepage” it will add the blog feed to whatever tab (section) you have open. Once the blog is on your page, you can click the down arrow and edit the gadget to have it show you the last 3 to 9 blog post headlines from that blogger. Repeat the steps and soon you’ll be reading your own custom newspaper too!

If you find a favorite gadget, decide to create your own customized newspaper or just found this a great way to reduce your email volume I’d love to hear from you. If you think a few of your friends might find this helpful feel free to share it with them. (Please click the Share this blog button on the Sidebar to the right)

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

“Building the Business Case for Social Media”

“End Embarrassing Email Errors”

“Email Records Retention Can Be Tricky”

Attracting Blog Subscriptions November 6, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email, web 2.0.
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It’s a funny thing how everyone has a blog but most have a dozen subscribers if that.  In business you need to publicize your blog everywhere.  I tried promoting it via a plain hyperlink in my email signature but no one clicked on it…that is until I made it an animated subscription.  My email  signature now automatically cycles through the last five posts.  Every email recipient has the opportunity to see the topics I’ve recently discussed and decide then & there whether it interests them.  How’d I do it?  It’s easy…

  1. First Sign-up for Google Feedburner and enter your blog’s information (title, original address aemailblogsignnd new feedburner address). and save your feed details.  Don’t worry, this is free. 
  2. Click on the Publicize tab.
  3. Select the Headline Animator.
  4. Select email signature.
  5. From the dropdown, choose email signature and click next
  6. Follow the instructions in the pop-up based upon your email service.  It’s available for Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook Express, Outlook 2003, Yahoo Mail and has workarounds for Gmail and Apple Mail too.

There’s plenty of other great features to help you with optimization and publicizing your blog with Feedburner.  I’ll make this a series of how to’s for the next few weeks.  If the construction industry starts using collaboration 2.0 (aka social media) for marketing and communication, for sure they will want to learn all these blog tips. 

Share your success with us.  We like to hear from our readers!

Making Your Email More Effective And Reduce Your Volume September 29, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email.
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This isn’t really techie but I feel compelled to help you all today.  I just finished reading The Hamster Revolution by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Tim Burress.  I must say that you if you teach me how, I will tell others so that they too can educate everyone on improving our email.  These are my top 7 takeaways from the book to reduce email volume and make you more effective:

  1. If you can say it all in the subject line please do so, then end the subject line with EOM (End of Message)
  2. If you are annoyed with volumes of thank yous and acknowledgements use NTN and NRN (No Thanks Necessary, No Reply Necessary)
  3. Use these words when appropriate in your subject line: Action, Request, Info, Confirmed, Delivery
  4. Have a clear & helpful auto signature – include your phone number (duh)
  5. When crafting email, the body should be in the ABC format.  After the greeting use these Headings: Action Summary, Background, Close
  6. Use bullet points to keep things concise
  7. Use the “rules” feature to automatically sort your email  

My additions to this include:

  • For my construction industry friends put the JOB NUMBER or PROJECT NAME in the subject line! 
  • For my association friends, use the association letters AGC, ASA, CFMA, NAWIC etc in the subject line if association related.
  • If the email you received has a meeting date, drag the email to the calendar and set the date, start/stop times immediately so you don’t forget it!
  • If you use your phone to email, take the time to create shortcuts for Action, Request, Info, Confirmed, Delivery so they aren’t misspelled.

If you are interested in just how much lost time you spent with email there’s a chart on page 15…which shows you how many days per year you’ll save,  if you reduce your email volume by 20%.  There’s something to the beauty of brevity that we all appreciate.  Maybe that’s why Twitter has so many users today.  It forces you to think and get to the point! 

Have any other suggestions?  Especially things that are quick and easy…please share them with us all and add your comments to this blog.

Email Records Retention can be Tricky August 31, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, email, records retention.
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Last week I spoke on “Records Retention” and “The Paperless Office” at the  54th Annual Convention of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).  The room was packed and the reality of the situation is that the majority of construction firms have not addressed written records retention policies.  Most that have are the  over $100 million in annual revenues, and many in attendance had forgotten to include e-policies for their email,  text messages,  and social networking activities.

Carol Hagen greets Judy DeWeese

Carol Hagen greets Judy DeWeese

The most interesting discussion was a firm (company A) that had experienced a legal discovery issue which centered around email.  They now have a written policy, all emails are removed from the exchange server and computers accordingly. They even erase the tape backups that contain the email per their retention policy.  So far so good.  What caught my attention was that the engineers said they wanted to keep a copy of the email, so they print them out and put them in the project file.  This is in direct violation of their own policy.

I spoke with a subcontracting firm (company B) that did the opposite of what was described above.  They just didn’t have space to electronically manage email so for them the record was kept  by printing it and placing it in the project folder and it was erased from their email systems.  A general contracting firm claimed they had not approved of a change order (they themselves did not archive their own email) and this subcontractor showed them a copy of their email approval.  The GC backed off, but this document won’t hold up in court.  Why? Lack of metadata.

In both situations there’s no metadata to prove the document is authentic and unaltered.  In Company A’s case, if you print your email, it is a copy.  Their next discovery issue, if only emails are requested might go undetected, but if they are asked for the project files they’re in a heap of trouble.  The courts will think they deleted the electronic version to “hide” something .  It’s because Company A is not uniformly enforcing their email retention policy.  In Company B’s case it is a copy but not worth the paper it’s printed on in court.  Both firms have exposure.  If they read this article they know they have risks.  What’s important at Company B is that they don’t have that GC’s attorney ask for the original email.  The tactic of scaring them away with the paper and calling upon their ethics is a good method, but be prepared if the GC has a tech savvy lawyer. 

If you want to keep emails, you should use an email archiving system.  If you don’t, then you need to educate all your employees that it means no copy in any form  – paper or electronic.  The E-Policy Handbook by Nancy Flynn has a great rule for you all to consider…” A destructive retention policy that calls for the purging of email on a regular intervals may render you the only party in the courtroom who is unable to produce copies of your own email.  That’s a position you never want to be in!”

End Embarrassing Email Errors August 17, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, email.
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I just received an email referring to an attachment that was nowhere to be found.  I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this faux pas myself and this is just one of the issues I’d like to address in my blog today. 

Missing attachments can be user error or a setting issue.  Mine have always been the former and now I know I’ll never have it happen again.  No more email oops messages for me, just use The Forgotten Attachment Detector or the missing attachment PowerToy .  Both are plug-ins designed for Outlook 2007.  You’ll need your system administrator to allow you to install either of these but if there are no incompatibilities your IT guy and the entire staff will thank you.  These plug-ins look for a few words that would suggest you meant to have an attachment and voila, it will stop you from sending the email without attaching something.  

Gmail also has a Forgotten Attachment Detector but it isn’t automatically enabled…you have to enable it in Labs. 

Gmail Forgotten Attachment

Login to Gmail, Click on Settings then find Labs and scroll down till you find Forgotten Attachment Detector by Jonathan K.  That’s what I call “Attachments for Dummies”. 

Another reason that people encounter the missing attachment has to do with incompatibility.  Only Microsoft uses the winmail.dat file when sending in Rich Text Format (RTF).  By simply changing a setting you can eliminate this problem.  To avoid using RTF  format in Outlook select Tools -> Options -> Mail Format and make sure you select HTML or Plain Text.  Note that different Outlook versions will determine where this setting can be changed.

My pet peeve on email has to do with send.  I find many people are in a rush and forget to check spelling, proof read or add the appropriate cc’s to emails before they press send.  I have looked for a solution and most of it actually resides within Microsoft.  Here’s a how to “Delay Sending Email”  for you to set-up on your own computer so if you have an “oh s&#*” moment you can catch it before it’s left your outbox.  You’ll also want to turn on the automatic spell checker, so review these set-ups accordingly… auto spell check on all email before sending(Outlook 2003) , auto spell check for Outlook 2007 or auto spell check for Outlook 2010.

If you have any other tools or suggestions to make emailing less embarassing, please share your comments.  Let’s make email a better experience for all of us!

Email Management and E-Forms in the Contracting Office? July 16, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in backup, Construction Industry - Software, Construction Industry Hardware, email.
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I just presented a seminar to the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) Valley of the Sun Chapter in Phoenix today.  Turns out that most construction firms, while using Microsoft Exchange Server, have not begun implementing a records retention plan concerning email.   Furthermore even some of the larger firms have yet to turn on journaling in Exchange and implement an automated archiving of email with an application server like EMC SourceOne or appliance like Arcmail.    If you missed the meeting and would like to view the presentation it is available from my LinkedIn Profile and/or it can be viewed here:

 Click on Menu to download the powerpoint presentation.

I am concerned that so many firms have left their only copy of email either scattered in PSTs on various PC and laptops or that they are dependent upon their in-house backups.   If any CFMA member wants to get this addressed ASAP, have your IT people contact me and we can arrange for a consultative meeting. 

Also in the presentation I mentioned Removable Disk RDX as it has a 30 year lifespan, it’s total cost of ownership (TCO) is much less than regular hard disk and it’s good for backups & archiving data, email, etc.  Most IT staff and outsourced technology firms have not promoted this media as they haven’t been exposed to it yet – even though RDX has been available for years.  I found it when the manufacturers of optical disk systems closed shop in this current recession.  One large General Contractor here in Phoenix is using the Prostor Systems Infinivault as backup & archives for large swaths of data including their document imaging and email systems.  If you’d like the opportunity to meet with this firm, let me know and I’ll arrange for you to talk or visit their IT department. 

Lastly, I must say that it seems that intelligent E-forms from firms like Formatta & PerfectForms will have to wait another year for most contracting firms here in Arizona.  With the construction industry treading water, new fangled approaches that integrate with other applications are more likely to be implemented by CFMA associate members that deal with mountains of forms.   I think the CFMA general members are still embracing the tried but true fillable Adobe Designer forms.  They’ll work on putting workflow, behavioral rules, reporting and integration to accounting systems to eliminate re-keying data sometime after they contend with their email issues. 

For those reading this blog and are not currently members of CFMA, if you supply a service to the construction industry or work in a construction office as a controller, CFO, VP or have another accounting title you should attend our next meeting and consider membership.  You can’t find a better group for networking, education and CPE credits! 

This is a blatant plug…if you do decide to join the CFMA, please put Carol Hagen in as the member who referred you on the application form.

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